Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Gert van Dijken, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 125
May 15, 2002

Last Update 14 May 2002

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FEEDBACK


Dear Editor,

I   read  Rob   White's  article   which  was,   to  say   the  least,
interesting. But is he serious?  He said he thought Riker's Island was
near Barbados.  I have to  assume he was  joking. Riker's Island  is a
prison on Long Island in New York.

The other  thing that interested  me, just because he  never mentioned
it, was what hotel they stayed at  - or perhaps they just slept on the
beach since  they seemed so  interested in experiencing the  island an
it's people from a native's point of view.

Kay Todd 
Group Sales Coordinator Antigua Resorts

JOURNEYS FOR MAY 2002

ANGUILLA BY JOHN CUTTINO AND CAROLYN DEDRICK

Dates: Apr 27-May 4, 2002 
Who: Me and the wife

We left Boston early on 7am AA flight to SJU. Chaos as usual. American
has  several large  flights leaving  Boston in  the 6-7am  time frame.
Everyone is  there at least 1 and  usually 2 or more  hrs early. There
are only  a handful of checkin  agents prior to 4.30  or 5.00am. There
are 3 lines: Miami, San Juan,  and domestic. Since the Miami flight is
first (6.10am)  they check  it in first.  Therefore we waited  (3rd in
line) for  1 hr without  moving. When they  did start checking  in San
Juan people,  it went  fast. Security was  not bad, despite  many hand
searches. (American needs to put on  more agents in early am, then you
would  not have  to be  there 2  or 3  hrs ahead).  Our flight  was on
time. They served breakfast.  In San Juan, connected to American Eagle
to Anguilla.  They were  asking for "volunteers"  to give up  seats on
several AE flights  due to "new" regulations on  weight limits. To get
to the  plane you board  a bus. You  need to be  in gate area  to hear
boarding  announcements.  When we  got  on  the  plane the  asked  for
"volunteers" to  give up seats (for  $400 plus hotel room  in San Juan
plus  dinner voucher  and  guaranteed  place on  9pm  flight). No  one
volunteered so  they "drafted" someone.  They called the names  of the
last people to book flight. We were on time and arrived at 2.30pm Were
met by staff from resort and directed to a cab to get to resort.  They
won't let you  rent a car at  the airport. I think so  the cabbies can
have work. Fixed rate cab rides with govt set rates.

The Resort: We had originally  booked at Malliouhana but were "bumped"
in Jan  since someone had  rented the entire  hotel for a  wedding. WE
rebooked  at  CuisinArt  Resort  and  Spa.  We were  in  a  luxury  jr
suite. There are  10 buildings right on the beach.  Each building is 3
stories. 3  suites on  1st and 2nd  level. On  3rd level, a  luxury jr
suite  and  a  2  br  suite.   These have  the  best  views  and  most
privacy. Views  of St Martin and  beach. Sliders and  screens so could
listen  to ocean  at  night.  Breakfast served  on  your terrace  each
morning.  Mini fridge  stocked with  water.  Anything  else  off rooms
service could be added. (we went to grocery store to get wine and beer
to stock).  The room was large  with king size bed,  large double tub,
large  shower  big  enough for  2.  Terrace  had  awning for  shad  if
needed.  very private.   Service was  good. Plently  of  clean towels,
beach towels. Turn down service. Beach and pool had attendents setting
you up  etc. At 3pm they  served sorbet both  on the beach and  by the
pool.  The beach  (Rendezvous Bay) is wonderful. Long  and perfect for
long walks. Water was warm and  serf not rough. They had all the water
accessories  you  could  want--sailboats,  kayaks, snorkle  gear  (all
gratis).

Activities: Went  to Scillly Cay  on Sunday (live music  day). Eudoxie
and    Sandra    Wallace    were    on   hand    to    serve.    Great
Lobster/crayfish/chicken etc.  It is  a very expensive  "lunch" (about
$120 for 2 with drinks) but a lot of fun. The rum punch knocks you for
a loop and naps  are in order.  Took the ferry to  St Martin for a day
of  shopping. Ferry  runs  every 30  mins.  $2 departure  tax and  $10
fare. Takes you right to Marigot. We shopped and had lunch at La Belle
Epoque on the  Marina. Very nice. After the  quiet of Anguilla, seemed
very  crowded and  we went  back by  3pm.  Took  a tour  of Hydroponic
Garden at  CuisinArt. Very interesting.   Wife did 2 spa  massages and
enjoyed them.   Other days  we lazed by  the pool  or beach or  in our
suite. Read lots of books.

Restaurants:  Lunches: Cafe  Mediterraneo at  CuisinArt  is wonderful.
Serves fresh  veggies from hydroponic  garden. Also ate at  Georges at
Cap Juluca. Also good.   Dinners: Blanchards. Exceptional food. Sevice
poor (Blanchards  not there). Had  Mahi/mahi, wife had  swordfish. The
coconut/chocolat desert  was wonderful. ($150 including  drinks but no
wine).  Mangos: Great service.  Wonderful food. Had counch chowder and
seafood  capellini.  Wife   had  tomato/mozarella  salad  and  grilled
chicken. ($120) Overlook: Not great.  They are closing soon so not all
items  on menu were  available. Nice  view and  good service.  Had the
garlic  encrusted  snapper  and  wife  chcken  pasta.   Santorini:  At
CuisinArt.   Average  restaurant.   Had  steak   and  wife   a  veggie
dish. ($120) Tramonte: Wonderful service and food. I had fish soup and
seafood  spaghetti, wife  had  Tom salad  and  chicken dish.   ($100).
Straw Hat: Great location right out over water with view of St Martin.
Wonderful  service.  I  had  mussels  and Thai  fish  stew,  wife  had
portobello    mushroom    salad    and    steak.    ($100)    Altamer:
Outstanding. Wonderful ambiance. Livemusic.  Right on water with waves
and  wind in  palms.  Very  romantic.  Had  conch  chowder and  shrimp
creole. wife  had tomato salad and  veggie pasta dish.  ($130 and well
worth it.)

Return Trip  uneventful. Early  am American Eagle  flight to  San Juan
connecting   to   flight   to    Boston.   On   time.   Getting   thru
immigration/customs in San Juan easy.

Summary: Anguilla is a wonderful  island. The people are very friendly
and helpful. The beaches are outstanding.  Exceptional restaurants. We
did the high  end tourist places but you can also  go "native" for not
much $ and  be happy. Places like Tastys, Uncle  Ernies, etc are great
also.

BAHAMAS: ATLANTIS RESORT BY LINDA NOLTE

My sister and  I went to the  Atlantis Resort in late April  for a few
days of rest and relaxation. Although I had read trip reports that had
mentioned  the disappointment  in service,  activities, food,  etc., I
feel that I  must tell you what our experience was  like. We left from
Charlotte on US Airways at 11:15am and arrived in Nassau at 1:25pm. We
took  a tour  bus over  to Paradise  Island and  arrived at  the hotel
around 2:30pm. We promptly checked in  to our room with no problems at
all, although I had heard that they are very adamant about a 3PM check
in. Our room  was in the Coral Towers and  was automatically up graded
from a $378.00 room to a $450.00  room. The room was very clean with 2
double beds and a balcony with table and chairs looking over the water
park and a beautiful  view of the ocean. The room had  an in room mini
bottle bar and snacks. My sister  got the munchies one night and ate a
Snickers candy bar  and we were charged $5.95 for  it. You can imagine
how much a mini  bottle would had run. The hotel is  rated 5 stars and
it lived  up to that rating.  The architecture and  sculptures in side
the resort are all first class  and by well know artists. The hallways
are marble  and the  carpeting throughout the  hotel is always  on the
theme of  the ocean creatures and  shells. All lighting  in the resort
consist  of  sea creatures  or  shells from  the  sea.  The resort  is
extremely  clean and  never did  I see  debris of  any kind  inside or
outside the resort.  With 34 acres surrounding the  resort you have to
do some major  walking to get to certain  areas. This could definitely
cause  problems   with  the  handicapped  or  elderly.   Most  of  the
restaurants at the  resort are buffet type. Breakfast  runs $19.00 per
person with  gratuities always  included with every  meal you  eat and
every alcoholic  drink. Breakfast  consist of anything  and everything
you can imagine. You even have your own chef to fix your eggs right in
front of you. Some of the best Eggs Benedict I have ever had. When you
need  something from  your table,  all you  do is  lift your  hand and
someone is at  your table within a minute and  always willing and able
to do  their job. These employees  are always smiling, happy  to be of
service  and   truly  concerned  that  you  are   having  a  wonderful
vacation.  Dinner  is usually  buffet  also.  Dinner  runs $49.00  per
person. Again,  there is  so much variety  of foods available,  even a
pasta  bar, pizza  bar, seafood  bar, salad  bar and  best of  all the
dessert bar with every type of  dessert you could ask for. Service was
always good  at every  meal. The most  important thing to  remember is
that  the food in  all of  the Bahamas  is very  expensive. Everything
comes out of Miami. Almost every  island I have been to in the Bahamas
has mediocre food but not the  Atlantis. The food was always very good
to excellent.  Even in grocery  stores you can  expect to pay  $3.00 a
gallon for bottled water and a gallon of milk can run as much as $7.00
Most of  the shops in the  resort are designer shops  like Gucci, Anne
Klein, Tiffany, Calvin Klein, but  some are your normal shops with tee
shirts, hats,  handbags and  souvenirs. Of course  these are  all duty
free and  there is no  tax in the  Bahamas. The grounds are  so lovely
with beautiful  blooming flowers everywhere and  sting rays,sharks and
other large fish  swimming all around the small  lagoons as you stroll
the walkways  outside. The  beach was a  disappointment to me.  It was
very crowded  and they mark  off a buoyed  area that you have  to stay
within because of  the jet skis and motor boats  in the area. Although
the water was crystal clear and a beautiful teal blue color, there was
nothing to see snorkeling except an occasional fish here and there. We
did snorkel in  the lagoon area and saw groups  of fish, urchins, lots
of sponges  and colorful fish. It  would be what  I consider beginners
snorkeling areas.  Drinks everywhere in  the resort usually  ran $6.00
(including gratuity) and  you never had to say, make  it a double, the
liquor was  flowing and bartenders  were excellent with any  drink you
wanted.  The casino  is  absolutely beautiful.  Fine glass  sculptures
hanging  from the  ceiling with  beautiful carpeting  throughout. They
have about  800 slots and poker  machines, 3 craps  tables, 2 roulette
tables, 9  blackjack tables with the  minimum bet being $10  and up. 4
Caribbean poker tables,  and various other tables. As  long as you are
betting,  drinks are  on the  house with  someone coming  by  every 10
minutes to take orders. The  resort has huge wall aquariums throughout
the  hotel with hammerhead  sharks, bull  sharks, nurse  sharks, manta
rays swimming in  groups, and all these animals are  big, some 10 feet
long. All in all,  I can honestly say that the Atlantis  is one of the
highlights of all  my vacations I have ever had. Keep  in mind that it
is always  crowded but if you are  thinking of going when  kids are on
vacation  from school  or during  holidays then  you are  going  to be
waiting in line  to eat meals, and probably  not receiving the service
you should for the prices you are paying.

JAMAICA: COUPLES NEGRIL 20-27 MARCH 2002 TRAVEL REPORT BY LARRY AND DARLENE MASSA

Travel - We used  TimAir in lieu of the bus and  paid $240 in cash for
two  round  trips to  Negril  after  making  the web  reservations  in
January. Could  have used plastic at  the TimAir counter  in MoBay but
opted not to and avoided the  additional 5% credit card fee. From what
I saw,  nobody waited more  than 30 minutes  for a TimAir  flight. The
only  bad part  of the  trip was  the theft  of a  camera  and digital
camcorder on  the return US  Air flight.  Frustrating because  you are
encouraged to  not use  carry-on baggage yet  our checked  baggage was
opened and stolen from after US Air took possession of the bags at the
MoBay ticket counter.Rooms: We had  a Gardenview Suite, which I highly
recommend.   The distinction between  Beachfront and  Gardenview (both
suites and rooms) is so minor that I don't see why they even bother to
differentiate between them. The reason  I would recommend a suite vice
room is  room size  and amenities.  Suites are twice  as big,  have an
additional  window   on  the  corner   side  and  the   bathrooms  are
awesome. They have  a Jacuzzi that easily held two  plus a rain shower
that  you have  to  experience  to really  appreciate.  Having a  well
stocked refrigerator in the suite was  also a big plus. Bring CD's, we
forgot ours  and really  missed them. The  hair dryers were  not worth
using (maybe  50 cycle  electricity?). As far  as room  location goes,
there are  9 three  story buildings  on the property  (we were  on the
second   floor  of  building   9  at   the  south   end  and   it  was
perfect). Everyone  we talked to while  we were there  said that their
room was just right. I honestly think a guest would be happy in any of
the buildings.Staff: If you are  new to Jamaica you have to understand
that they are on "Jamaican time".  This is not really a matter of time
but, an attitude that can be frustrating if you don't get in sync with
it. My wife and I made it a  point to say hi and talk with every staff
member that we interacted  with and, without exception, they responded
with  courtesy and  pride. We  had outstanding  service  from everyone
including   the   bartenders,   waiters,   front   desk,   maids   and
entertainers. All it took was a simple "Hi Mon" and "Thank You" to get
treated  like a  welcome guest.   While  we were  there three  couples
arrived and  acted like the  staff were paid servants.  Their attitude
was just reflected back and  they were treated accordingly. They never
did figure out why no one, guests included, wanted anything to do with
them. Social: Most of the guests  were in the 30-50 year old age group
while we were there (there were a few in their 20's, but not many). My
wife  and I  renewed  our  vows at  the  garden gazebo  and  it was  a
wonderful experience.  The  good times were way too  many to list but,
here are  a few memories  that we  took away.  We  met a lot  of other
couples  with similar interests  and just  had a  plain old  good time
wherever we  were (the pool bar  is great!).  If you  are into diving,
sailing or  water sports there is more  to do than you  will have time
for. My wife,  along with maybe 50% of the gals  there went topless on
the beach. The beach and ocean at Couples Negril was as good as I have
ever seen in the Caribbean, it has a real gradual slope that was ideal
for floating and easy swimming. There are plenty of shade trees at the
waters edge to lie under if you have had your fill of sun or just want
to kick back and read.   We are not "participators" but, couldn't help
but join  in at  Couples. The  piano bar sing  along and  wine tasting
nights  are not  to  be missed.  The  "booze cruise"  on  the 94  foot
catamaran was a high point of the week.  Do take some dress up clothes
so that you can take  advantage of the " reservations only" restaurant
as it  is well worth it.  Beach Party and Friday  Lobster nights stand
out in my memory.

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